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Live Blogging Marin Startup Grind With Michael Tchong (MacWEEK Founder)

Well here we go. I'm just pumped that I'm live blogging and not hosting. Dave Wamsley just introduced the event for the crowd here in San Rafael north of San Francisco.

People in the crowd include a city councilman, the head of the Marin Economic Forum, and many other sharp people. A lot more ties and suits in Marin than I'm used to. I'm wearing a Nike Air Force One shirt but I think I should have worn some of my Prefontaine gear.

Dave is introducing Michael Tchong. Founder of Iconocast, MacWEEK, and Social Revolution. Michael starts off right by thanking his mother. He was born in Aruba and came to the US after visiting, the first time. "I am a 'rebel without a boss' and my parents shipped me to New York to attend boarding school."

He eventually arrived in Palo Alto to work at an ad agency. Print magazines were "state of the art" when he started MacWEEK. He started MacWEEK in January 1987, John Scully was running Apple at the time.

He started the magazine having seen a sneak preview of the Mac II. It was radically better than the previous versions. "I saw a trend of what the future was going to be like."

He knew that eventually everything would be run by the Mac. But Dave Bennel had done a deal with Apple to be Apple's designated weekly publication. "So I broke all the rules." Apple sent a letter to all MacWEEK's advertisers encouraging them not to advertise with them. "It was not easy to run a company that the mothership didn't approve of."

After MacWEEK was bought by ZiffDavis, he stayed for four years. The founder had been a billionaire several times over. He taught Michael and others about the sales structure. You don't sell, you tell a story. "And the structure sold the magazine."

Structure: Opening, Market, Buyers, Competitions, Summary, Close. "It helps you flush out the objections before you get to your product."

The magazines were 2-inches thick at that time. Iconocast was build from 2 people to 14-people.

Michael's book is called Social Engagement Marketing.

Iconocast was caught in the dot com bust. He had to lay off 14-people. "The worst thing a founder has to do."

He decided after searching Google for anyone working on trends that no one owned the space. He's become someone that looks for trends, spot what is coming, and making predictions through speaking engagements and other ways to help people see the future.

"Selling to the guy on the corner and Johnson and Johnson is basically the same."

Social Revolution is his next startup. "We have to get Americans working again."

"The iPad is the new toaster."

Michael is talking about Pebble, the Kickstarter watch project that used crowdfunding to raise $4MM+. "We need to get people working again. VCs need to go out and invest in companies."

"Apple has sold 67 million iPad. No ones has ever seen anything like this. We've never seen anything like this."

"Siri is only the tip of the iceberg."

"Find something that's a pain in the ass...AND SOLVE IT!"

Question: How did you keep going after Apple told you they wouldn't support you? MacWorld imitated everything they did. "We dropped our prices.  It was classic marketing sandbagging. They underestimated me. I bought the best newsletter team instantly. They were the John Gruber of the day. "I found a way to Fedex alcohol to the Mac II developers working on the secret project and it was hugely successful. They loved it."

Question: Everyone wants to change the world - but how can you really do it? "Remember that SOPA was defeated by 67k people."

"Keep it simple. The uber trend is; we're too damn busy. You need to save time. Save time for the users. Time is more valuable than money."

"Your product only needs to be open if it sucks. Silicon Valley needs a giant enema." That's a direct quote. What a place to end. Wow.

 

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